Music From The Shadows: Ancient Armenian Hymns And Piano Jazz (via NPR)

Tigran Hamasyan won the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition in 2006, but the music that resonates even deeper for him is centuries removed — and a sound world away — from jazz.

Hamasyan’s new album, Luys I Luso (Light from Light), is an arresting exploration of ancient sacred music from his native Armenia. But there’s a twist. Hamasyan merges the old chants and sharakans (hymns) with improvisational, jazz-inflected piano. The results are mysterious yet modern, as if a choir of 5th century monks interrupted Keith Jarrett’s Köln Concert.

In some songs, Hamasyan’s piano simply paints harmonic backdrops; in others, he interlaces improvisations, inspired by jazz and the ancient music at hand. The piano parts are never written out, so Hamasyan’s performances sound fresh each time.

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